Berlinale: Programme

Film file


Computer Chess

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These days any dumbphone is smart enough to put even a chess grandmaster in his place. It was different though back in the early 1980s. Back then, nerds of all ages would get together, make bets on how much longer it would be until computers were superior to people, program in Fortran and Prolog on obscure hardware with acoustic couplers and tiny quaint screens, and the term "artificial intelligence" was on everybody’s lips.
Andrew Bujalski catapults us back to that time in both aesthetic and thematic terms. Computer Chess is the story of how a chess programmers’ competition in a provincial hotel spins out of control when the somewhat inhibited chess geeks clash with the would-be sexually liberated members of a self-discovery group. This amusing, warm-hearted and lovingly detailed journey back in time was shot on a black-and-white Sony video camera from the era. Yet when the images at some point switch to colour as if by magic, sound and image are overlaid in psychedelic manner, one of the experts gets caught in a time warp and another enters into philosophical debates with his computer, all this marvelous frivolity turns deadly serious. Or vice versa.

USA 2013, 92 min


Andrew Bujalski


James Curry
Chris Doubek
Robin Schwartz
Myles Paige
Patrick Riester